Her stay outside, may not have only sparked the debate on her much waited home coming but it has also fuelled notable infightings in a party she still leads. Malawi’s ex-president, Joyce Banda has really not seen what her Peoples Party (PP) has metamorphosed into, from the time she started it up to now, when critics argue it may be heading to its deathbed.
Fresh from being what she dubbed as being politically haunted in the Cashgate scandal, which took place under her leadership in 2013, Banda now has an uphill task of settling disputes that have rocked her party over who should take over the mantle from her for now.
After she lost the 2014 polls, which she and other candidates disputed, Banda stood to the ground with her PP saying they will do all it takes for the party to return to power. Banda came into power in 2012 following the demise of the then President Bingu wa Mutharika who had booted her out of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) alongside Khumbo Kachali. And together they formed the PP.
Recently, there has been miscellaneous exodus of top officials from the party as well as wrangles being propelled by debates on who should lead the party even though Banda opted to pick Uladi Mussa to be the acting president.
However, some officials have been pushing for Kachali to be the leader to the extent that they sought an injunction that stopped Mussa and third vice president Kamlepo Kalua from discharging his duties.
The officials, Salim Bagus, Cliffer Kondowe, Bornwell Kapatuka, Daniel Kaipa and Zeleso Gomani went ahead to seek an injunction at Mzuzu High Court restraining the two from taking their positions.
Just a week ago, the Northern region team stopped Mussa from holding a rally in the region saying he was not appointed in good faith and that they do not want him.
The faction also reportedly asked Banda to come back home to clear the mess haunting the former ruling party.
But are the disputes as a result of the party falling out of power two years ago? Could we say that the infightings have come about because the party lost in the 2014 elections?
Malawian Blogger, news media & communications Columnist and political analyst Jimmy Kainja is of a different view.
Kainja in an email response to Malawi24 argued that it would be quite wrong to say that the infighting haunting the ex-ruling party could be tilted to the party getting out of power.
He said that since the party, was not voted into power it remains imperative to make such an argument.
‘’The most important thing to remember here is that PP is a party that never got elected into power, so it would be incorrect to question the squabbles in the party from the perspective of PP being a former ruling party. You will remember that the party’s vice president, Khumbo Kachali endorsed his party’s main rival DPP’s Peter Mutharika for Malawi presidency during the 2014 elections. This may indicate that the unity you think has been broken by the current fight for leadership position(s) was not there in the first place,’’ said Kainja.
He went on to say that PP is not a party but a collection of individuals of frustrated individuals who wanted to take advantage of its then status as a ruling party.
‘’One could argue that PP, as a party was put together by people who were at the time frustrated by the late Bingu wa Mutharika and his DPP. The current mess shows that their frustrations with Bingu was the only thing they had in common, not that they shared any political ideology or vision of this country. Being in power kept the party together because its members were after the benefits that those in power get from the government. This is the only test the party has had and it has failed miserably. It was not a party, it was a collection of frustrated individuals. If there is any resolve at the end of this, maybe that’s when the party could start forming,’’ said Kainja.
However, PP Publicity and Administrative Secretary Ken Msonda maintains that the squabbles in the party do not portray the PP.
Msonda told this reporter that PP is not under any disputes and that the political twists that have been in the party are only means it is existing and not dying as it looks.
‘’There are no rows in PP but different of opinion. In a democratic dispensation people can agree to disagree but still live together peacefully. What is happening in PP is a clear indication that our members are alive and active.
‘’In a political party, religious or faith grouping; organization or company where members differ in opinion and don’t speak out, it shows that their members are “dead”. Once their members resurrect from the “dead” they shall raise and voice out if they differ in opinion,’’ wrote Msonda in an email response to Malawi24 on Monday.
On whether the reasons that the faction which is against the appointment of Mussa are worth it or not, Kainja said that it begs questions on whether PP loyalties are really true or not.
‘’I don’t think is a case of being right or wrong. Don’t they have a party constitution? What does it say? Maybe this should be a point of departure to address this question specifically but we must remember that most of those arguing are mere political sojourners in quest for personal fulfilment.
As I have said before, now that there are no benefits of a ruling party and there is no common enemy who forced the formation of the party, there is nothing that binds these folks together apart from the mythical idea of a political party – there is no way they can work together. The regional thing comes in because in time of adversity it is natural that proximity of some sort draw people together. This is most likely the case here.’’
‘’It’s about party ownership not leadership. Mussa has been everywhere in the political arena. What does he stand for if not personal gains? Under any circumstances it is correct to question the choice of Mussa as a leadership material. Did he not dump his own party for the glory of joining a party in power when it was clear that law was going to take its course and Joyce Banda as then the state vice president was going to succeed the late president, Bingu wa Mutharika?’’ wondered Kainja.
While Msonda could not bear it that the faction in the North is against Joyce Banda’s decision to appoint Mussa and that a couple of members are leaving the party because of the qualms that are now hot news, he said that the party has been strong and that the members leaving the party are not reflecting anything.
‘’People’s Party has a membership of over 800,000 from the North; 65 NEC members, 5 Politburo members and 15 members of Parliament from the North. Only one NEC member Rev. Christopher Mzomera Ngwira MP, a Members of Parliament expressed his opinion that Rt Hon Khumbo Kachali MP take over PP leadership in the absence of our President Joyce Banda.
“Hon Khumbo Kachali has on several occasions through electronic and print media have distanced himself from Rev. Christopher Mzomera Ngwira’s opinion that he takes over PP leadership in the absence of Banda. Why and how people keep on referring to Mzomera’s opinion and sentiments, the devil knows. If the views of one NEC member is described as views of the Northern Providence then I have no further comment on the matter,’’ he said.
But Mzomera Ngwira who was said to have been axed from the party last week maintained that they do not accept Mussa’s appointment.
Ngwira told a local radio station on Sunday, 7th February that the members going for Kachali as President will not stop the calls.
It now remains a question on whether Banda’s absence exonerates her from her role to make such appointments.
Did she tear the party apart by leaving Malawi?